Today in our meet the Founding Members series meet Kathy Kennedy, Assistant to the Director of Education for IVA:
What’s your musical background?
Growing up there was always lots of music around me. My parents loved music and I had two older sisters who were constantly buying and playing records. I sang in choirs in school, but it didn’t really get exciting for me until I started singing with friends in the neighborhood. I bought my first guitar then, and discovered I could pick out harmonies and sing them really well. I was always into popular music, but loved jazz standards, too.
By the age of 20 I was singing in bands. I have learned everything by doing – trial & error – out in the real world. I have a rich performance career, sung back-ups with some famous people, both on CDs and live, written & recorded my own songs, and traveled the world with a successful party band doing corporate shows in exotic locations. I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.
Any other musical training aside from voice?
Guitar and piano lessons, music theory, sight-reading, etc. I actually took guitar lessons with Joe Satriani here in Berkeley and still have one of his guitars that I bought from him. I played guitar in a band for a short while, but gave it up to concentrate on singing, and also to get better on piano for teaching.
Do you only teach voice lessons?
Yes, only voice, but sometimes I include performance and style. I also work with people who have problems with their speaking voices who have no desire to sing.
Where have you taught?
Blue Bear School of Music, West Coast Songwriters Conference, Blue Star Music Camp, Rising Stars Boot Camp, and the Performing Arts and Medicine Coalition in San Francisco. I’ve taught in many countries in Europe, as well as Asia, Canada and the United States
What’s your favorite part of being a voice teacher?
The excitement of connecting with people, helping them develop confidence and gain something they really want! When that light bulb goes off and the smile comes, “Wow, I’m dong something I didn’t think I could,” then I feel I’ve really made a difference in their lives. This can happen with a total pro or a complete beginner.
Often psychology comes in when working closely with someone, their dreams, and their fears. I feel it is important to see that person for what they need and handle them accordingly, rather than working with everyone exactly the same. It’s a gift to be able to work with people in this way. I love it because it encompasses singing & music, as well as psychology, which I also studied in college and have a huge interest in.
What is your vision for IVA?
What I love most is working as a team with people I totally respect and admire. It inspires me to learn and be a better teacher. I don’t want this company to be about one person. I’ve witnessed the MTs create so much over the years, and I’ve learned so much from all of them. The camaraderie and a global community of teachers is a wonderful thing, too.
I want an organization that is together, organized and ethical; something we can all be proud of. One that VALUES other people’s contributions rather than taking them for granted.
Any words of wisdom for beginning singing teachers out there?
You have to find your own voice. Copying is a great form of learning, but you need to be you and find your own sound. There’s already an Adele, a Christina A., Mariah… Once you get your technique working then let your emotions start to bring out your contribution. When you sing a song you have to own it. It’s like you wrote it, it’s your song now.